Christopher Nolan’s latest offering, in IMAX no less, is an epic new journey of discovery which takes Matthew McConaughey through a wormhole; in Interstellar, Nolan has tipped his directorial hat to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and managed to “out-Roddenberry” the Star Trek creator with worlds that surpass most imaginations. This long spectacular film entertains on a level that many movies aim for but few attain. This star studded feature, with five Oscar winners on board, should be seen in IMAX to get the full effect of what the director’s vision for the film is. Interstellar is a completely immersive experience, one that sucks the audience in and holds them captive for the entire 2 hour 49 minute run time.
Interstellar is based upon an old screenplay by Nolan’s brother Jonathan who wrote it originally for Steven Spielberg. It was this that Chris dusted off and adapted for his science fiction foray. Wally Pfister was absent in this film as cinematographer, due to his directorial debut on Transcendence and Nolan used Swiss cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema (Let the Right One In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) in his place. Hoytema is said to have “modified” an IMAX camera into a handheld for some interior scenes in the film. It is this type of ingenuity that points to Hoytema as being the right choice.
In the film the earth is dying slowly and painfully. The space program has been shelved as now people’s tax dollars are being used to feed the world. Horticulturally, the Earth’s denizens are being starved to death by blight, which is systematically striking different food plants. At the start of the film, okra has been taken off the menu with only corn being untouched by the disease. NASA has been shut down as the general public disliked the idea of travelling to the stars when the main problem at home was finding something to eat. The government have gone so far as to rewrite history and is teaching children that the moon landings were faked.
Cooper (McConaughey) is a former NASA pilot and engineer who farms with his father-in-law (John Lithgow), daughter Murph (played brilliantly by Mackenzie Foy as a youngster and Jessica Chastain as the grown Murphy) and son Tom (played splendidly, again by two different actors, with Timothée Chalamet as young Tom and Casey Affleck as grown Tom). Young Murph has a ghost in her room, she says, and it is trying to communicate with her. Cooper goes up to help her decipher the message that the entity is attempting to convey. One of the things the two learn are the coordinates to some unnamed spot and the father and daughter go to find it.
Interstellar, despite its bleak and disturbing start, takes Matthew McConaughey on a epic new space odyssey after his and Murph’s interaction with the ghost and also splits the two apart in a rift that will stretch across space and time. The underlying theme of a father’s love for his children is a strong and unwavering one which repeatedly reasserts itself throughout the IMAX film. Coop and his daughter have no idea that what they will find at the facility will destroy what they currently have.
Upon arriving, Cooper and Murph meet Professor Brand, a man from the former NASA pilot’s past, and the professor’s daughter Amelia. Brand is played by Michael Caine and Amelia by Anne Hathaway who are two more of the five Oscar winners to grace this film with their talented presence. Once these four meet the film takes a different direction with Cooper, Amelia, Doyle (Wes Bentley) and Romilly (David Gyasi) as saviours of the human race who are to use a wormhole placed near Saturn to follow three previous explorers whose missions were to find a habitable planet for mankind. While this search takes place, the professor works on finishing his gravity equation which will allow the current inhabitants of the planet to leave.
Interstellar is a spectacular and mesmerising cinematic journey. It is stunning to look at and visually is quite unlike anything else in cinemas this year. Nolan has, as usual, opted for little to no computerized FX in his movie about space travel, time and saving the human race and the film benefits from this decision. The environments of the “foreign” planets look real and more importantly, feel real to not just the audience but obviously to the actors as well.
Matthew McConaughey gives Cooper a solid humanity that transcends the usual interstellar heroes of science fiction. Making this explorer a farmer as well as a family man was a brilliant touch and casting the native Texan just as equally impressive.
It is very difficult to convey just how spectacular this film is in terms of what can be called “epic cinema.” While the movie run-time is long, it does not feel that way. Events on the screen are fascinating enough that Interstellar keeps the audience transfixed and glued to their seats with only the call of mother nature alluding to the passing of time. Each scene, regardless of the time reference in the feature, fully engages the viewer. Nolan, with his skillful use of editing(by Chris Nolan “regular” Lee Smith) and pacing, keeps the audience invested with this world, its inhabitants and the main character’s journey. The film stretches the boundaries of what makes great science fiction by blending the action and pathos beautifully. Interstellar opens November 5 nationwide. Prepare to be thoroughly engaged with this film and, a word to the wise here, do not have too much to drink before viewing as one potty break could potentially spoil the whole film.
By Michael Smith
Brenden Palms Theater